Ultimate Guide to Livestreams for Brands

Illustration showing a live button, broadcasting play button, and video camera symbol surrounded by happy face emojis and hearts. Blog post header image about Livestreams for brands.
Illustration showing a live button, broadcasting play button, and video camera symbol surrounded by happy face emojis and hearts. Blog post header image about Livestreams for brands.

Today's marketing and PR pros are well-versed in video production, and the importance of video as a content marketing medium. However the ante has been upped once again with more and more social platforms introducing livestreaming capabilities and features. So, savvy marketing professionals will need to start building livestreaming skills in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Contents

Why Should Brands Care About Livestreaming?

Live streaming is a great way to interact with your audience. More and more brands and influencers are using this medium to host demos, presentations, press conferences, and more. Often live streams are used in the entertainment industry to announce release dates for new TV seasons or movie premieres.

When HBO announced the air date for Game of Thrones season 7, via Facebook Live, the stream attracted around 3.5 million viewers!

(Just make sure your streamer knows how to use in-app live streaming. Mark Ruffalo famously live-streamed the first 20 minutes of Thor Ragnarok by accident at the films 2017 premiere).

Through live streaming, marketers can do a better job at capturing the attention of today's traditionally "short attention span" consumer. In fact, according to IBM, "consumers watch live video 10–20 times longer than on-demand content". Couple that with the fact that "82% of viewers say they prefer seeing a live stream rather than a brand’s social posts" and it's easy to see why sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter are incorporating live streaming functionality, and why marketers should be taking advantage.

Example of Ways Brands Can Use Livestreaming

Young woman with headphones and a microphone running a livestream for a brand

Not sure where to start? These live streaming ideas and goals can help you unlock your marketing creativity when it comes to social media live streaming:

Announce New Product Releases

Hop on a livestream to announce new product releases. You could boost conversions by offering special discounts or prizes to the first 100 people who join the stream, or use it as an opportunity to answer customer questions. When audiences can comment and interact, with each other and their favorite brands in real-time, it heightens excitement and brings them closer to the brand.

Improve Customer Service

Live Q&A sessions can help you show that your brand is authentic, transparent, and therefore, trustworthy; all of which are vital ingredients of a successful marketing strategy. Q&A sessions pave the way for great customer service through problem solving, especially as many social livestreaming functions have an on-demand feature — meaning viewers can go back to the video later for reference.

Live Q&A sessions can also help cut costs by freeing up manpower and allowing brands to address FAQ to a crowd of viewers rather than individuals; similar to how using Twitter for customer service can provide answers in a public forum, for those customers who are following the conversation, but not necessarily participating.

Charity Livestreams and Fundraisers

One common way companies and organizations use livestreams is to run a charity event. These livestreams are designed to raise money for a particular cause, and often run for several hours. YouTube and Twitch are popular social platforms for running a charity livestream.

Some can even be ongoing, such as this Monterey Bay Aquarium live jellyfish cam.

The livestream is designed as a fundraiser - on the right side of the video there's a standing "Donate" button that viewers can use to support the aquarium, complete with the current amount raised.

Donate button on a charity livestream on YouTube

Improve Message Clarity

If a picture says a thousand words, a video must say a million. Written messages can easily become lost in translation, causing damage to our brand. Video messaging offers brands the chance to better articulate their messages and build context through emotion, so our audience can connect with us more directly.

Influencer Partnerships & Thought Leadership

Collaborating with others who are in a similar industry is a great way to boost brand awareness and reach. Inviting guests to join you on your livestream not only helps with promotion, it helps keep your stream lively and dynamic, rather than a single person as a talking head. For collabs like this, LinkedIn Lives would be a great medium, since you're getting in front of a more professional and business-minded following.

Consider Q&As, AMAs, or panel discussions with industry experts and influencers.

Meltwater social influencers tool can help you discover relevant people to connect with. Users are able to search through over 500 million profiles in 60,000 different categories, no matter the niche! The tool analyzes and locates influences on various platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Youtube in one go.

Meltwater social influencer dashboard

Interested? Get in touch by below!

Getting Started With Livestreaming

Ready to get started with your first social media livestream? Here's a few tips to keep in mind:

Choose a topic

Even though livestreams do have a more "off-the-cuff" nature — that's part of their charm — it's still important to have a loose structure for what you'd like to cover.

Some ideas for selecting a topic for your live stream:

Look at what content has resonated in the past

Google Analytics can help to uncover what content is resonating on your website. If you have a blog or resources page, have a look at what posts receive the most traffic. Also, look at what posts received lots of shares on social media.

These topics are likely to generate interest as they have done in the past!

You can also, check out your competitors content for inspiration.

Look at trending topics in your industry 

Find out the kinds of topics that are generating interest in your industry by using data-driven insights found through a social media monitoring tool. Social media monitoring tools allow users to track both qualitative and quantitative data points such as audience engagement, demographics, topic trends and whether something is receiving positive or negative responses.

Be adaptable

Person at a desk with multiple screens, and microphone running a livestream with multiple participants.

Like we mentioned, it's a good idea to have a plan in place to structure how you want to run the live stream. However, you should be ready to ditch the plan to meet the needs of your audience. If you planned to discuss a particular topic but your audience is asking questions outside the topic, you should be ready to respond and adapt to this.

Remember that today's consumer loves authenticity, so going with the flow of the conversation and showing flexibility as opposed to following a rigid script during your livestreams can go a long way toward endearing yourself to your audience.

If you’re collaborating with another person, consider creating an agenda with a few questions/talking points as a way to keep the conversation flowing.

Don’t ignore the audience

One of the great things about livestreams is audience participation. Viewers can leave comments and questions in real time, and so it's good practice to incorporate responding to these in real time as well.

You could also ask viewers to send in some questions ahead of the live stream, to encourage them to tune in on the day, as well as ensure your content is relevant.

Check your equipment and internet connectivity

Having technical difficulties won’t look professional and can lead to negative publicity. The time spent promoting and choosing a topic is wasted if our audience can’t watch without dealing with lags or glitches. We know that it can’t always be helped, but try and minimize background noise and ensure you have a clear image beforehand to avoid disappointing your community. If possible, do a test prior to the event.

Remember you don’t have to have high tech equipment to run a stream. Depending on your desired production quality, an iPhone has a good enough camera and microphone to produce a good quality live stream.

Analyse ROI

Like any marketing campaign, you need to take the time to analyze the data from your event. Analyzing the level of engagement during and after you stream can provide a good baseline for future events.

Some livestream metrics you may want to consider include:

  • Attendees
  • Comments
  • Subscribes or new followers
  • Amount raised

Social Media Livestreaming Apps

Lives allow for a more off-the-cuff, real, and authentic relationship to develop between brands and consumers, influencers and their audiences. They are a unique medium where viewers can communicate both with each other, as well as the hosts, cultivating a deeply loyal fan-base and community. Questions can be asked in real-time, certain incentives and gifts can be awarded and received, and products can even be purchased as live shopping becomes more common.

These are the leading platforms for live video in 2022 that PR and marketing pros should be aware of:

1. Facebook Live

Facebook Live began in 2015, as a "celebrity-only" option. Stars such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (one of the first adopters of Facebook Live) could use it to send messages to their fans, promote projects, and run campaigns. That's a far cry from the feature today, which allows anyone to go live on Facebook. You can choose between going live on a Profile, in Groups, Events and, if you’re a business or public figure, on Pages. Facebook Live works well for all devices.

If you’re considering using Facebook Live, be sure you have the right tools to produce quality live videos, as 67% of viewers say quality is the most important factor when they choose to watch a livestream.

2. YouTube Live

YouTube also offers their own live streaming option, which launched in 2011. Anyone can access this feature (though if you're streaming from a mobile device you do need 1,000 subscribers or more). YouTube Lives are a great live video option if you want to give your audience a different, perhaps more polished, kind of experience to an Instagram Live or Facebook Live. For example, YouTube Lives lend themselves to having more guests participating because they're designed to be shown in the YouTube video viewer, which is a traditional horizontal video, rather than a vertical video that might be shot on a phone.

Viewers of YouTube streaming videos can participate in live conversations, and in some cases like the Cinema Therapy example shared above, users can offer monetary support for their favorite channels through comment section gamification features.

Like Instagram Lives, YouTube Live videos can be saved as a regular video after the session has ended. This means people who weren't able to join live can watch at a later date.

How long can a YouTube Live be?

YouTube Lives can also be up to 10 hours long which allows for more creative streaming topics and formats, such as what Team Starkid, the theater group behind the popular "A Very Potter Musical" series, did for their 10 year anniversary.

Check out our blog to learn more about setting up a YouTube marketing strategy.

3. Twitter Spaces

Although Twitter officially sunsetted its original live video feature, Periscope in early 2021, you can still go live on Twitter via their new version of live streaming: Twitter Spaces. Designed to look similar to Instagram Lives & Stories, Spaces follows the social audio trend, allowing for live audio recordings from an individual account, or a joint session between multiple accounts.

Anyone can join and listen in to a Space, and the host can Tweet out a link to let their followers know it's happening. Hosts can also invite guests to speak. Those listening in the audience can request to speak as well, which is a great way to encourage Q&A sessions.

Can you view a Twitter Space after it ends?

Yes, but with a caveat. Currently, Twitter Spaces are only available for replay up to 30 days after they're broadcast.

4. Instagram Live

Instagram started offering their live streaming service in 2016, and have definitely been among the more popular choices for public figures and brands. Instagram Lives live at the top of the apps home-feed page, at the front of the Stories line. Anyone can join a live on Instagram.

How long can an Instagram Live be?

You can stream live on Instagram for up to 4 hours.

5. LinkedIn Live

LinkedIn was a bit later to the game when it comes to Live Video, launching their streaming service in 2019. Live videos on LinkedIn are similar to YouTube in that they're not exactly designed as phone-first. They may require better equipment, or at least better lighting if you're streaming through a computer camera, especially because they're geared toward the more business-minded, professional audience. This additional effort could end up paying huge dividends however, as LinkedIn Lives are a great medium for promoting your company, products, team and company culture. You could directly or indirectly attract talent, and put your company in a positive spotlight around various DE&I initiatives or employee perks.

How long can a LinkedIn Live be?

LinkedIn Lives can be up to 4 hours long.

Can anyone stream live on LinkedIn?

No. Currently LinkedIn live streaming is only available to eligible pages and creators.

6. TikTok

TikTok launched their live streaming feature in 2019. It's a similar set up, look and feel, to Instagram Live. Multiple guests can join, and creators set up an "Event" for TikTok users to register for. After a TikTok live is over, it's available for the creator to save and download, and they an also make it available for others to download and re-watch.

How long can a TikTok Live be?

TikTok livestreams can be up to 60 minutes.

7. Twitch

Unlike the other social platforms on this list, Twitch was specifically designed for live streaming. Their original core audience was gamers, carving out that niche which took off like wildfire. While the opportunities for brands on Twitch are relegated mostly to advertising and influencer partnerships, there are some brands and public figures who have managed to cultivate strong communities on the platform. Twitch streams are commonly reshared to YouTube playlists.

How long can a Twitch stream be?

You can actually run a stream on Twitch for up to 48 hours.

8. Pinterest

Believe it or not, Pinterest also has its own live stream function, known as PinterestTV. It works similar to Instagram and TikTok, with the exception of exclusivity. The platform only features on live episode at a time! Many creators have tapped into this unique resource to build their audience, promote products, and showcase their skills. During the 2021 holiday season, Pinterest also launched a live shopping component, incorporated into their PinterestTV episodes.

Now you should feel ready to jump into livestreaming for your business! Use a social listening tool like Meltwater to uncover topics and industry trends. Fill out the form below to schedule a free demo!

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